Adidas and the National Basketball Association have tied a new knot in their long-term deal that makes the former exclusive global NBA apparel provider and merchandiser.
Until now, Adidas has owned that distinction everywhere but Europe. But starting with the 2010-11 NBA season, the sports apparel company will also handle NBA gear across the pond. Adidas in 2006 signed an 11-year global deal that put its apparel on all NBA players and also made the brand the official apparel provider of the WNBA and NBA D-League.
Europe, however, wasn't part of that deal because competitive sports brand Champion was still in a multi-year contract with the NBA for that market. That deal has ended.
The new program, launching Oct. 1 with the tip-off of NBA Europe Live presented by EA Sports, gives Adidas access to Europe to manufacture and market there such products as replica player jerseys, team warm-up collections, shooting shirts, official practice wear and Adidas compression undergarments, per the companies. The Adidas Originals brand will sell "NBA Soul Swingman" jerseys inspired by the NBA's line of Hardwood Classics products and replica jerseys worn by NBA legends.
Sal LaRocca, EVP of NBA global merchandising, says the NBA and Adidas will support the partnership through a mix of global marketing and media initiatives, including the NBA Europe Live game, grassroots events and branded media programs in the 215 countries in which the league distributes content.
"Adidas is the leading footwear and apparel company in Europe -- they have a terrific retail and branding presence in Europe, Russia, Turkey and other key NBA markets," LaRocca tells Marketing Daily . "So ultimately, it unifies the overall apparel program on a worldwide basis -- it allows us to have merchandise distributed all over the world."
He notes that Adidas has branded stores throughout Europe as well as a branded presence beyond its own stores.
"That gives us a very significant combination for distributing products," he says, adding that the NBA already has branded "store-in-store" sections in all Adidas stores, and also has co-branded Adidas/ NBA shops. "What will ultimately happen is Adidas' marketing plan for Europe will be tailored to focus on the introduction of new NBA-branded products."
In Europe, basketball is second only to football (called soccer in the United States). LaRocca says basketball is becoming more popular.
"All of our indicators point to growth, especially as we continue to have European players playing in the NBA. We see the growth in the sport there from boys and girls through teens and adults, and with the Olympics in London in 2012, we have another opportunity."